Creating a fertile ground for innovation.
Awareness is at the apex of any coaching conversation. This is the moment where the client reaches an insight and is able to see their situation in a way that they had not seen before. Awareness is what the client is seeking, simply because after awareness, action is just a consequence.
For the coach, especially new coaches, reaching this moment can be intimidating. How can we bring a client to this new level of discernment that neither they nor we know in advance? What is the secret? In my mentor coaching practice, I have seen many coaches questioning their ability to be effective particularly because of the fear of not being able to bring the client into this new awareness.
That is why I say that coaching is a courageous act. We embark on this process with our clients not knowing the destination but trusting that together we will be able to get there.
However, as elusive as it might seem to be, awareness is inevitable – and that is where we can all place our confidence. There is no doubt in my mind that when two human beings come together and sincerely put their best efforts in judiciously exploring a situation or a topic, something new will show up. That is the power of connection. In human terms, 1+1 is never a simple addition. We cannot help but to multiply, and it is in this alchemy that innovation happens.
I was very pleased when, in the new version of the Core Competencies, the ICF decided to use the verb “Evokes” associated with the Awareness competency. In the previous version, we used to call it “Creating Awareness”, almost meaning that it was the job of the coach to generate the awareness for the clients. That to me is an impossible task. Awareness cannot be created, and it is not up to the coach to reach this state of insight or to fabricate it in their clients. The only thing we can do is to partner with the coachee in creating the proper conditions for awareness to surface – and that is where all the other Core Competencies come into play.
The secret of awareness is not in awareness itself. For us to support our clients into getting their aha moment, we must start from the beginning. How well have we established the coaching agreement – both for the whole process as well as each session? How deep is our presence? How broad is our listening? How easy is our language and communication with the client, especially in formulating questions and sharing our observations?
Awareness does not happen on a whim. Instead, it is an inevitable fruit of the careful work we do all along.
The great point of it is that this way, it becomes very easy to troubleshoot it. If we are not being able to bring the client into an awareness or if the awareness is consistently somewhat superficial, it is time for us to reflect on the skills we are demonstrating in all the other competencies and see how we can polish them even further so that we are better able to provide the breathing space for awareness to grow.
The secret of awareness is in building sharp coaching skills and in trusting the humanity of our clients and ourselves. This is a recipe that can never fail, and this is one of the foundational and brilliant points of our coaching profession.
As a mentor coach, I am always giving feedback to my students and mentees helping them develop their coaching skills and prepare for their certification with the ICF. ForCoaches is a place where I can publicly share some of my insights and experiences. What does it mean to be a truly effective coach?